Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Shevat 5760 - January 19, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Am Echad Delegation Meets with Gedolei Yisroel

by Betzalel Kahn

On Tuesday 11 Shevat, the members of the Am Echad delegation from the Untied States met with maranan verabonon, the gedolei haTorah vehaChassidus as well as with the heads of the Israeli government, public figures and many others. On Monday they met with prime minister Ehud Barak.

The 100 members of the Am Echad contingent began to arrive in Israel on Sunday night.

On Monday they met with prime minster Ehud Barak in his office. Also present at the meeting were MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, Labor Minister Eli Yishai and others. According to the directives of maranan verabonon to promote the idea of a genealogical database (sefer yuchsin) due to the serious problems that have arisen in Eretz Yisroel and in chutz la'aretz, they raised that issue with the prime minister.

The atmosphere which prevailed at the meeting with Prime Minister Barak was very grave. Members of the contingent stressed the dangers posed by the immigration of masses of non-Jews to Israel They emphasized that the entire world knows about Israel's open door policy with respect to almost every non-Jew who wishes to enter it, and that Israel is one of the easiest of the developed countries to gain entrance to. The members of the contingent also pointed to the dangers of the Basic Laws, and told the Prime Minister: "You must know that the state must not lose its Jewish identity. The whole world knows that this is a Jewish state, and this must not change."

In his remarks to the members of the contingent, Ehud Barak said that he is currently more familiar with the essence of the Torah world than he was before. "I have religious relatives who apprised me of the nature of the religious sector. Today, I understand the chareidi sector better. I understand the demands the chareidi parties make on behalf of their constituents. Regarding your fears and concerns, I totally understand the nature of your fears and concerns."

On Tuesday, they met with maranan verabonon at their homes. At these meetings, the important issue of the genealogical database was discussed. Stress was placed on the terrible situation which prevails in Israel today, with the hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who are flooding the country.

At the end of the meetings in Jerusalem, the members of the contingent were to tour the Shuvu school in Petach Tikvah, and to meet with the rabbonim of the city and its mayor, as well with the general director of Shuvu in Israel. They were also scheduled to meet with the rabbi of Rechovot. After that, they were to meet with the gedolei haTorah vehaChassidus in Bnei Brak. The day is scheduled to conclude with a festive dinner in the auditorium of the Bnei Brak municipality attended by rabbonim, the mayor of Bnei Brak and many guests.

On Wednesday morning, they are slated to dedicate the offices of Am Echad on Yirmiyahu Street in Jerusalem. This ceremony will be attended by the Admor of Novominsk, the Rosh of American Agudas Yisroel, as well as by MKs Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz and Rabbi Meir Porush; the director of the Yerushalayim Office of Am Echad, Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum, and Jerusalem's mayor.

Later on they will meet with the chief rabbis. After that, a lunch will be held in the Knesset. It will be attended by the Labor and Welfare Minister, the Housing Minister, the chairman of the Knesset, Knesset members and public figures. On Wednesday afternoon, the members of the contingent will meet with government ministers Chaim Ramon, Chaim Oron and Natan Sharansky, as well as with the chairman of the Likud, Ariel Sharon, and a number of MKs from all of the parties.

On Thursday, the members of the contingent will participate in two symposiums. The first, to be held in the morning, will focus on the topic, "The Media and the Religious Jews." Members of the English language press, as well as Rabbi Mordechai Neugershall and additional prominent figures, will participate in the symposium. The second symposium will deal with the issue, "Israel -- a Jewish and Democratic State," and will be attended by Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, as well as by the secretary of the government, Yitzchok Herzog, and other MKs.

This is the second time that a contingent of Am Echad members have come to Israel. Two years ago, they conducted a similar visit to Israel. Heading the contingent at that time was Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z"l. The current visit has been organized by Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, the deputy chairman of Agudas Yisroel in America; Rabbi Abraham Biderman and others. Among the members of the contingent are prominent philanthropists, businessmen and activists from all the religious organizations in the United States.

The planning committee arrived in arrived in Israel a number of days before the contingent. It is led by the deputy chairman of the Agudas Yisroel of America, Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, one of the heads of the contingent, who is coordinating the meetings and the events in which the members of the Am Echad party will participate.

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